MISDEMEANORS

A MISDEMEANOR IS A CRIME THAT CAN BE PUNISHED BY UP TO ONE YEAR IN THE COUNTY JAIL, OTHER THAN THOSE SUBJECT TO IMPRISONMENT UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF PENAL CODE SECTION 1170(H).  

 

The timeline for a misdemeanor case is as follows:

1. ARREST

2. ARRAIGNMENT

Your first appearance in court after an arrest is called an arraignment.  At the arraignment, you will appear before a judge and be advised of your constitutional rights.  You will be given a copy of the complaint, a document that lists the charges against you.  You can apply for a court-appointed lawyer by filling out a form to determine if you qualify for the services of the Private Defender Program.  If you qualify, a lawyer from the Program will appear with you and enter a plea of not guilty.  If you are in custody, your lawyer will attempt to secure your release, either through the setting of bail or by a release on your own recognizance.  Future court dates will then be set.

3. PRETRIAL CONFERENCE

This conference will include a discussion between your lawyer, a judge, and the deputy district attorney.  The goal at this conference is to obtain the best possible offer to resolve the case.  Your lawyer will discuss the offer with you as well as what you might expect should your case proceed to a trial. If you decide to accept the offer, you will be advised of all the rights you would be giving up, including your right to a jury trial. Typically, you would then be sentenced at the same time as when you enter your plea. If you decide to reject the offer, your case will proceed to trial.

4. JURY TRIAL

The right to a trial by jury is guaranteed.  Every person charged with a crime is presumed innocent and the burden is on the district attorney to convince each of 12 jurors that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt

Most misdemeanor trials last about a week.  If all 12 jurors cannot agree on a verdict at the conclusion of the trial, a “mistrial” will be declared.  The district attorney will decide whether to retry the case, make a better offer, or dismiss it.    

For assistance during regular business hours:

please call (650) 298-4000

​Monday-Friday 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM

"If there is no equal justice,
there is no justice at all."

Chief Justice Warren Burger

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